This is the time capsule of America’s colonial past, one of the first of its kind, which doubled as a hub of prosperity and a place to call home during the American Revolution. Here the glory days of the 2nd Amendment were taking part while militias fortified this important capital of commerce.
The Governor’s Palace is actually a replica of what original stood there in the 1700’s. There was a fire that burned it down, so academics and historians worked together to rebuild it as faithfully as possible. The Palace is a fun and educational trip that impresses as much as it tells the story of Williamburg’s royal governance.
Continuing off the theme of lavish trappings and historical pieces, the George Wythe House is filled with all original furniture and artwork. George Wythe is a sort of unsung hero of Virginia. His astute knowledge and grasp of government, military, and history was invaluable. In fact, he was a close confident of Thomas Jefferson and other important early American leaders, including congress itself. He went on to be a signee of the final draft of the Declaration of Independence.
This is where all the blood, sweat, and tears of early colonial Williamsburg occurred inside its walls. There was such a dense collection of skilled labor and artistic flair, even without the help of modern technology, they were able to produce pieces that are often unmatched even to this day. Stop by the various major craft workshops, like the Tannery, Blacksmith, Goldsmith, or Gunsmith shops.
Considered the little brother of Florida’s Busch Garden’s location, Virginia brings all the great animals and rollercoaster rides for tourists to get lost in a world of African-inspired safari adventures. Busch Gardens has a little bit of everything: the zoo, children’s learning and playground areas, live entertainment and music, as well as plenty of rollercoasters, including the infamous Loch Ness Monster and Alpengeist rides. The layout is a little different than its Florida counterpart, but the excitement and quality is just as high.
Another great destination to take the family out for a bit of a break from all the historical travels is one of the country’s best waterparks, located at Water Country USA. It can get pretty hot in Virginia, but rather than driving all the way out to the beach, why not head to the coldest, wettest, and most exciting waterpark on the coast? There’s rides, mini-golf courses, a wave pool, and of course the wild waterslides.
This is actually a combination of both museum and art gallery. The Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Gallery is connected to Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. There is so much beauty and talent on display in such a single contained area, you could easily spend your whole day between these two buildings. Major pieces and exhibits regularly pass through here, including one of the world’s biggest single collection of English porcelain and silver outside of the country.
Taverns were a big staple of colonial life back in the 18th Century. They still are, but there aren’t very many traditional taverns left anymore, bars are their successors. The best thing about these colonial taverns is that their menus are as close as you can get to the original dishes and drinks that the founding fathers would have enjoyed. There’s something special about sharing a posthumous meal with great men of the past.
For a more humbling and necessary glimpse into the country’s past, you have to visit the Great Hopes Plantation. In order to learn from our mistakes we must grasp all aspects of what it was like back in the 18th Century when an estimated one-fifth of the population owned slaves. These plantations in particular were mainly comprised of small farmers that were not part of the upper class.
This is a special college in America, not just because of who attended its classes, but also because it is the oldest active institution of its kind in America. It first opened its doors in 1695 and has gone on to see the likes of Washington, Jefferson, and Monroe all attend the College of William and Mary. Stop by and learn a little, and after you can tell everyone you went to the same college as the first president of the United States.